This week, the bad boy of biodiesel Willie Nelson and billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg strolled the Union Square Farmer's Market and sampled snap peas to spread word that this September 9th, Farm Aid will be going local. As a sign of these urban green times, for the first time in the history of the 22-year run of the farm-funding concert series, NYC will host the event. The good news throws luscious compost onto the growing local food movement here, but local farmers still face challenges. Dairy is New York State's number one agricultural industry, with some 6,000 dairy farms, however nearly 40 dairy farms are lost each month. But on the sunny side, Bloomberg unveiled hat the city would soon start offering property tax abatements to private building owners who install solar panels to generate electricity. And he said the city would issue a request for proposals this fall to find a private company to install solar panels on a number of city buildings.Additionally, the mayor pledged that by July 2008, 30% of the heating oil that the city purchases for municipal buildings will contain 5% biodiesel, a fuel made from renewable sources such as vegetable oils.
Bloomberg also traveled to Roosevelt Island this week to announce that two businesses there, a Gristede's Supermarket and a parking garage, are getting their electricity exclusively from underwater turbines. "If the project is successful, the East River could become home to more than 300 turbines, producing an annual amount of energy equivalent to 68,000 barrels of oil," he said.
Some more local farm stats via www.sustainabletable.org:
There are 36,000 farms in New York, with the main crops being dairy, greenhouse plants, apples, cattle and hay.
There are 428 certified organic farms and 330 certified organic crops in New York, grown on 26,955 acres of farmland. New York city has 76 farmers markets, of which 16 are open year round.
We're not only looking forward to Farm Aid, but also to the New Amsterdam Public project going through.